About Fellini and il paparazzo
A sudden flash, almost a gunshot in the dark. Famous faces suddenly lit, still in mid-gesture. Behind the lightning hides the sharp look of Tazio Secchiaroli, inventor of Italian “assault photography”. A genre based on intrusive, undesired quick shots, taken without permission, that often seek the right timing and trigger reactions.
Tazio Secchiaroli’s subjects are stars of cinema and of the international jet set that together with wealthy bourgeoisie and former aristocracy animate the Roman nights. His objective is publication on illustrated magazines; very soon he realises that the more unexpected the photographs, the higher the request by editors of periodicals. His exclusive photo shoots are seen all over the world and bring to the fore a new Italy at the dawn of the economic boom.
As for Tazio Secchiaroli, the film director is struck not only by the numerous episodes (from the fake miracle of Maratta Alta, to Aiché Nanà’s striptease, to the nighttime chases of Anita Ekberg or Ava Gardner) captured by the photographer, but by a certain something that others don’t have. Federico Fellini sees that Tazio’s photos are distinguished by an absolutely personal and new style; his compositional ability even in quick shots; his flair in planning pictures by orchestrating the right moment, choosing timing and protagonists, just like a film director.
A friendship is born: It’s a spontaneous feeling that two people experience when they recognise each other. Federico Fellini selects some of Secchiaroli’s scoops and elaborates them for the full-length film in the making, La Dolce Vita. He asks Tazio to play himself in the film. Secchiaroli declines the offer but agrees to teach Walter Santesso and the extras how to move and handle photographic equipment; Federico Fellini shapes the character of Paparazzo on the appearance and adventures of Secchiaroli. Tazio provokes, follows and pursues, he mixes in with the crowd and takes a photo only when he knows he is at the right distance, has the perfect framing. His promptness comes from his innate ability to aim, anticipating by one second his subject’s move, and his aptitude to create simultaneously the best composition.
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